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Abstract: Agriculture is not only an essential nexus between society and nature but in its current industrial form also a possible threat to ecological stability. This article explores how a supplement to the conventional agrifood system alleviates the negative consequences of the industrial food production system that manifest through the metabolic rift (Marx, 1981). During fieldwork in Estonia ten semi-structured in-depth interviews were conducted to analyze the practice of Food Self-Provisioning (FSP) in (peri-)urban dachas – a Russian term for a plot of land with a seasonal allotment house, mostly used for food production.
Using McClintock’s (2010) three-dimensional framework of metabolic rift that consists of ecological, social and individual dimensions, we demonstrate how FSP not only contributes to mending all these rifts but also increases resilience on various levels. As a region-specific practice of “quiet sustainability” (Smith and Jehlička, 2013) it displays an environmentally friendly alternative to the conventional agrifood system and serves as a strong example of sufficiency and moral economy. Furthermore, by its practice it not only challenges the continuous commodification process of ‘fictitious commodities’, such as land, labor and food (Polanyi, 2001; McClintock, 2010), but it defies market logic in general. Therefore, this article proposes FSP as a viable, but largely underestimated and even stigmatized, model of alternative sustainability, already widely practiced in post-socialist Europe.

Journal of Rural Studies, Volume 68, May 2019, Pages 75-86